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Book Review: Self-Publishing for Profit: How to Get Your Book Out of Your Head and into the Stores by Chris Kennedy

Self-Publishing for Profit: How to Get Your Book Out of Your Head and Into The Stores by Chris Kennedy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lots of Good Information Here

This is a good intro for someone without much knowledge about self-publishing. It covers a lot of ground, though, so you’ll need other resources if you want to dig deeper on any specific topic.

Also, keep in mind that this industry is changing every day, so some specific information might become outdated pretty quickly.

This is a great place to start your journey, but be sure to do your own research and keep yourself educated on the topics that are relevant to you.

View all my Goodreads reviews

Please note: This post contains affiliate links. This means that I receive a small percentage of sales through these links but at no extra cost to you. My editing, design and consulting services are paid for by clients, but affiliate links help me to provide free blog content, videos, and writing and self-publishing resources for all of my readers.

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Expanded Distribution for Print Books: The Costs

Many of us grew up loving the experience of going into the bookstore or library, perusing all of the covers, and choosing just the right one. Many of us still do, and the thrill of possibly seeing our own covers on those same shelves is just too great to pass up. So, it’s no wonder expanded distribution is a hot topic among indie authors.

Expanded distribution is a self-publishing choice that gives you the chance to get your book into bookstores and libraries, places that are usually off limits to indie authors. Actually, extended distribution only makes your book available to these places. There is no guarantee. Each bookstore and library must decide on its own which books to include in its collection.

The two major players in print-on-demand publishing are Amazon’s CreateSpace and IngramSpark, a part of Ingram Content Group and a long-time major player in the book distribution game.


expanded distribution, self-publishing, createspace, indie author          expanded distribution, self-publishing, IngramSpark, indie author

Expanded Distribution through CreateSpace

One author client of mine chose to publish his book through CreateSpace. Like many authors, he wanted expanded distribution, that is, until he learned the cost. CreateSpace is free to use, but once a book is put into CreateSpace’s expanded distribution program, the base price, or cost of producing and distributing the book, goes up. This leaves the author with a much lower royalty and/or a higher priced book. Higher prices often lead to fewer sales and, thus, less money earned.

For illustration purposes, I used CreateSpace’s Royalty Calculator (in the Royalties tab) to figure out the approximate royalties for a 200-page 6 × 9 book priced at $9.99. Here are the results:

expanded distribution, self-publishing, indie author, createspace, royalties, royalty calculator

I had to price the book at $9.99 to get any positive royalty at all through expanded distribution channels. At first, I thought this was ridiculous, but when I looked into IngramSpark’s program, I found much the same thing.

Expanded Distribution through IngramSpark

IngramSpark has a different way to approach the same situation. The company charges a setup fee of $49 to publish a print book, and all of its books go through expanded distribution.

Its books are made available to “just about anyone on the planet who sells (or is even thinking about selling) a book in any format.”

On the surface, this seems like a better deal. Just pay a setup fee and keep more of the royalties to yourself! However, because of discounts, this isn’t the case after all.

When I used IngramSpark’s Publisher Compensation Calculator (their version of a royalty calculator) for the same 200-page 6 × 9 book, these were the results:

expanded distribution, self-publishing, indie author, ingramspark, royalties, royalty calculator

The royalties, or publisher compensation, were 10 cents lower. Why? The answer comes in the form of discounts to retailers, wholesalers, and distributors.

Discounts and Pricing

According to Joel Friedlander, retailers such as your local bookstore generally demand at least a 40% discount on the list price of books. The wholesaler (such as Ingram or Baker and Taylor) take its cut, too, about 15%. Then, the distributor takes a chunk. In the end, “as a publisher you will have to give up 65-70% of the retail price to get the benefits of full distribution.”

Which Is Better?

In a curious twist, CreateSpace’s expanded distribution uses Ingram to distribute your books, and IngramSpark distributes through Amazon as well as other retailers.

The only difference that I found was the rumor that some brick-and-mortar stores refuse to order from Amazon, which they rightly view as competition. In addition, if your book is distributed through Ingram, it may show up as available from a “third-party seller” on Amazon.

In the end, it seems that you’re getting much the same service for a similar price, except for Ingram’s $49 setup fee. So, you have to ask yourself whether the $49 fee is worth forgoing certain retailers’ aversion to Amazon.

Some experts, such as Joanna Penn, advocate publishing “wide,” or using as many platforms as you can to publish your book. For example, you could publish your print book on CreateSpace without expanded distribution and earn a higher royalty through Amazon’s channels. At the same time, you could use IngramSpark to cover all of your other bases and make your book available to brick-and-mortar stores, libraries, and other retailers.

Other Options: Skipping Expanded Distribution

If you are an author wishing to keep your initial investment low, you may wish to forgo expanded distribution for your print book. You can start out by sticking to CreateSpace and grabbing your chunk of Amazon’s massive market share.

Alternatively, you might want to skip the print market altogether, at least as a beginning strategy. Ebooks are a massive part of the market. According to the “Top Ten Trends in Publishing Every Author Needs to Know in 2017,” “70% of adult fiction sales were digital” in 2016.

Once you’ve established yourself as an indie author and started to build a platform with plenty of positive reviews, you can explore your options with expanded distribution.

What options have worked best for you? What are your plans for publishing your print book?

Please note that the conclusions in this article have been drawn from my own research and experience. It is essential that you do your own research and draw your own conclusions because the publishing world is constantly changing and, to stay competitive as an indie author, you have to keep up.


An Indie Author Guide to Saving Money on Editing—Part 1: The Value of Patience

Welcome to the first part of my new weekly series on methods that indie authors can use to save money on editing.

The first question that you might have is why would an editor want to tell an author how to save money on her services. The reasons are many, but here are just a few:

1. I am an author myself. I plan to self-publish the two novels that I am currently working on as well as those that come after. I understand how big that number can look when you get an estimate from an editor to polish up your manuscript (”Be nice to my baby!”). I have no desire to bankrupt writers just so they can publish books that won’t send readers away screaming about errors. (But I also know that most professional editors, myself included, charge reasonable fees with the goal of earning a comfortable, living wage.)

2. It’s more enjoyable for me. As an editor, I enjoy editing books that start out in better shape. If I’m not fixing things that it would have been easy for the author to fix, I get to really enjoy the story and concentrate on using those professional skills that I have spent years developing, unique skills that authors hire me for.

“But, hey, doesn’t that mean you’re charging me the same amount to do less work?!”

No, actually. Like many editors, I have a range of rates that I charge for each of my services. I charge per word. For manuscripts that are already well polished, I charge the lower end of the range. For manuscripts that are messy and will take me more time to clean up or analyze, I charge the upper rate of the range. Currently, there is a 1.5 cent per word difference between my lower and upper rates for copyediting. For an author, that could mean the difference between paying $750 for a clean 50,000 word manuscript and paying $1500 for a messy one.

3. It won’t take me as long to finish. If your manuscript is clean, I will spend less time on it. You will get it back faster, and I can accept another job during that time. So, instead of spending four weeks copyediting one messy manuscript, I can spend those same four weeks copyediting two clean ones, so I get to read more great books and interact with more wonderful authors. It’s a win–win, if you ask me.

The Value of Patience

So how, you might ask, will patience save me money on editing? When a manuscript is accepted by a publisher, it goes through a series of tried and true steps, only one of which is editing. If publishers skipped those steps, they might soon be out of business.

Take the same care with your own book. Make yourself a checklist of the steps that you think or know are necessary to create a great product. Yes, your book is a creation and a work of art, but if you want to sell it, you must also see it as a product. The makers of car seats and packaged foods pay dearly for skipping quality-assurance steps, and so do independent authors.

Almost everything that I will suggest to you in this series to save money on editing will require patience, but here are a couple that you can start with. I will cover more steps in future posts.

1. Don’t send your first draft to an editor. Let it sit for two to three months and then self-edit it. Trust me, after you haven’t laid eyes on your precious baby for a while, it won’t seem as precious, and you’ll be able to catch a lot of mistakes. Why pay an editor to do this part if you can do it yourself with just a little patience and space away from your manuscript?

Does this mean that I won’t take your money if you send me your first draft? Of course not. When we’re under contract, you are paying me to apply my skills to your book. I can do that anytime. If you want me to start earlier on in the process, I will, but I don’t recommend it.

“But, Janell, what am I supposed to do? I want to publish. I can’t just twiddle my thumbs for two or three months. I’ve got to get this baby on Amazon now!

If you only plan to publish one book, you’ve probably been working on this book for a while. Two to three months in the long run will only make it better. For those of you who want to publish more than one novel, see point 2.

2. Establish a cycle. While manuscript one is “stewing,” start writing manuscript two. Getting all caught up in a new book is great for putting distance between you and the project that’s been consuming all of your energy for weeks (if you’re a NaNoWriMo style writer), months, or years. As an indie author, you also have other things you can take care of while your brain takes a much needed vacation from your first manuscript, especially once you have more than one book in the pipeline. You could be doing any of the following and still stay productive as a writer:

• Self-editing another manuscript.
• Preparing an edited and formatted manuscript for launch.
• Building your author platform (the dreaded marketing!).
• Writing a new book or short story.

Basically, you need to build up a cycle of Write–Revise*–Publish–Promote for all of your titles and overlap them something like this:

1. Write first draft of Title 1.
2. Write first draft of Title 2.
3. Self-edit Title 1.
4. Send Title 1 out to alpha readers.
5. Self-edit Title 2.
6. Send Title 2 out to alpha readers.
7. Review alpha reader feedback on Title 1 and self-edit again.
8. … and on and on, working in a third or fourth title as you wish.

*Revise is not a single step. It includes self-editing, getting the help of alpha/beta readers and/or critique partners, and hiring a professional editor and proofreader along with lots and lots of revision on your part. I didn’t say this was going to be easy.

As with any worthwhile endeavor, you won’t reach your goal overnight. You don’t earn a black belt in a month, and you certainly don’t become a successful, established, selling author that quickly either, so take your time and do it right.


SUNDAY REBLOG: The Self-Publishing Checklist: Editorial, Production, Distribution via @JaneFriedman

I’ve picked this post from Jane Friedman as this Sunday’s reblog because I’ve already found it personally helpful and have passed it onto one of my authors, who is working on his second self-published title. There is a lot to learn as a self-published author, and this handy checklist can help.

This customizable checklist guides your self-publishing project to completion, to ensure you don’t miss any important steps.

Source: The Self-Publishing Checklist: Editorial, Production, Distribution

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